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Travel Tech Essentialist #124: Timeless
In the year 705 AD, when Japan's Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan hotel first opened its doors to guests, the Mayas were flourishing in Mesoamerica, Europeans were in the early stages of the Dark Ages, the Islamic Caliphate was expanding its influence across the world, and the Chinese Tang Dynasty was experiencing a period of prosperity. Lots of things have changed since then, except for the fact that this remarkable hotel is still welcoming guests. The hotel's enduring legacy reminds us of what's at the core of hospitality and every single successful venture. It's not so much about enabling AI, the cloud, or the metaverse, but about the timeless practice of making something people want and love, even as trends, cultures, and eras come and go.
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0. The most clicked link in the previous newsletter
The most clicked link in Travel Tech Essentialist #123 was this infographic on B2B Payments in Hospitality by Paul van Alfen from Up in The Air.
1. The world's oldest hotel - 1318 years of continuous operation
Stuart Greif, EVP of Forbes Travel Guide, shared a great post about the world's oldest hotel, Japan's Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, a hot spring hotel near Mount Fuji. The hotel has been in operation since the year 705, which is 1318 years of continuous operation. Until recently, the hotel was run by 52 generations of the same family! Read + Mental Floss.
2. Airbnb joins the S&P 500
Airbnb will join the S&P 500 index before the market opens on September 18 as part of a quarterly rebalance. For public companies, being added to the index is like being admitted to a prestigious club, signifying robust financial health and the trust of institutional investors.
Airbnb's stock price has been rising in anticipation of its S&P 500 inclusion. The stock is up about 8% since the announcement was made on September 5th. Airbnb's inclusion in the S&P 500 will make it eligible for inclusion in many passive investment funds, which could drive even more demand for its stock.
With a market cap of $94 billion, Airbnb will join the S&P 500 index before the market opens on September 18 as part of a quarterly rebalance. For public companies, being added to the index is like being admitted to a prestigious club, signifying robust financial health and the trust of institutional investors.
Main highlights of Airbnb’s second quarter results:
Revenue grew 18% year-over-year
APAC saw the strongest growth, 37% year-over-year, but was still below pre-pandemic levels.
Cross-border represented 45% of nights booked, higher than Q2 2023 (43%) but still lower than Q2 2019 (50%).
Long-term stays remain stable at 18% of nights booked. They were at 13% pre-pandemic.
Brazil and Germany are two of the fastest-growing markets, with gross nights booked rising 110% and 63% year-over-year, respectively.
3. Which cities lead in travel startup activity?
The Travel Tech Essentialist Startup & Investors dataset has more than 1000 travel startups that have received total funding of $49 billion from 2331 VCs and angels. According to this data, here are the top 5 cities (by number of travel startups) for 8 travel sub-verticals:
If you want to have access to the dataset, you can subscribe to it here ($100/yr): Startup & Investor dataset.
4. Equity crowdfunding for travel startups
The global equity crowdfunding industry is growing rapidly, and the travel sector is one of its fastest-growing segments. Wefunder is a leading equity crowdfunding platform that connects startups with individual investors. It has helped 45 travel startups raise over $17 million. Among them:
Jurny: End-to-end property management system powered by industry-leading AI. $2.4 million from 440 investors (campaign not yet ended).
Boom Supersonic: Supersonic passenger airplanes. Raised $1.95 million from 44 investors.
Misterb&b: LGBTQ travel community. $1.7 million from 2612 investors.
Well Travelled Club: Private network for a new generation of travelers. Raised $890k from 80 investors
Hotels By Day: Hourly hotel services: work, play, stay for the day. Raised $174k from 322 investors.
Dockshare: Airbnb for docks and boat slips. $132k from 92 investors (campaign not yet ended).
You can see the full list by filtering for the Travel & Tourism vertical.
5. Gilad’s key themes in travel tech
Gilad Bernstein (entrepreneur, investor, and Virtuoso board member) shared a list of key themes that he is paying attention to in travel tech during his opening keynote for the Travel Tech Innovation Summit at Virtuoso Travel Week. He highlighted a good number of startups in each theme.
The Emergence of AI and its commoditization
New monetization models: new travel agency models; financialization of travel; monetization of one’s audience & brand (travel as a service, subscriptions)
Smarter and more connected systems: rise of the operating system; connected trip
6. Omnipresent travel content leads to new forms of travel distribution
Interesting TNMT article that explores the three pillars of Embedded Travel, highlighting some of the companies that are leading the way:
The rise of Travel-as-a-Service. Enables the omnipresence of travel booking capabilities across platforms including non-travel applications and websites.
The rise of bookable content. The confluence of social media platforms and online booking is fostering an unprecedented trend, with TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, leading the way.
The booming creator economy. Meteoric rise of the creator economy propelled by the public’s appetite for influencer insights, with travel standing out as a prime focus.
7. Accenture’s areas of focus in travel
Anshul Gupta (Travel & Hospitality Lead at Accenture) defines the four trends travel players need to embrace to thrive and to play a part in shaping the future of travel:
Digital identity. Secure and trusted identity systems that use biometrics and other innovations to make travel easier and safer.
Data transparency. Improved data management and insights to better serve travelers.
Generative AI. Hyper-personalized inspiration, trip planning, experiences and marketing through AI.
Technology and science. Combining technology with the latest science to make travel safer and more efficient.
8. Scott Galloway on the dire future of Chief Marketing Officers
Via Nicolas Visiers, I came across a compelling article about a recent event at the Australian Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising in which Professor Scott Galloway predicts that CMOs who are not looking to evolve their roles away from advertising, brand, and media budgets will be dead in 18 months or less.
"If you’re the CMO that shows up and says ‘I need more budget so that I can do a brand identity study, can spend money on advertising and get invited to great conferences’ then you’re dead in 18 months or less….I don’t like to say this at ad conferences but advertising kind of outs you as not getting it. Show me a company that has had more than a $100 billion market cap in the last decade and I’ll show you a company that probably doesn’t advertise very much. The companies that add a lot of value are focused on boring shit like supply chain and analytics and product innovation."
Professor Galloway often makes bold predictions, many of which have been so wrong so many times that there’s even an anti-Galloway investing strategy that bets against what he predicts. But still, what he says about CMOs is worth taking note of. Read + Bandt
9. Distribution trumps product
Creating a great product is hard, but distribution is even harder. It’s the #1 challenge in consumer services. Success depends on achieving extraordinary product virality or finding a low-cost and scalable distribution channel.
10. Fundraising and deals
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